We continue to exist! Although we’ve definitely been really quiet. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

The year started well with a mainline CFAR workshop and an AIRCS workshop.

Then, at the beginning of March, we cancelled any plans for in-person workshops for the rest of the year, including one that was set to start in a week. This was primarily motivated by the desire to make sure people had enough time to prepare for, as we all called it then, “corona.”

This left us in a bit of a pickle with instructor training. The March mainline workshop was supposed to be a sort of “final exam.” Eventually we decided to officially end the program, but continue to work with our ICs on other projects if they were interested. Many were! You’ll hear about some of what they’re doing in these newsletters.

With offices closed and in-person workshops doomed, we decided to have a “workshop sabbatical”, giving staff more time for learning, outside projects, focused work, and exploration. We had wanted to do this for a while, and considered this as good a time as any. Here is a smattering of random artifacts from this time: LW post, (prize winning!) EA post, LW post, household musical, podcast guest.

Sometime around September, we ended our sabbatical and got back to thinking about developing and teaching applied rationality. Here are some of the things we’re working on right now.

Coaching Program Experiment

We’re running an experimental coaching program for our alumni designed to help us with our R&D and maybe participants with their bugs. Coaching is $40 an hour while the program is in beta, and the first session with each coach is free. Here are some of our coaches’ areas of interest this month:

Naturalism School

Logan (né Brienne) is unfurling a “naturalism” school: an approach to learning the art of rationality that is more like studying botany and less like attending a coding bootcamp. They will likely be posting more about this in the next few months. Other contributors include Nora Ammann, Preston Greene, Nicole Ross, and Irena Kotikova. Below is an artistic peep at what’s going to come.


Roam Collaboration

Roam is a new “note taking tool for networked thought” that a number of our staff and alumni use and which was in fact founded by one of our workshop mentors. We’re currently trying our hand at running our first online, asynchronous workshop for some of their staff. If you and your organization would be interested in being a future experiment, email Tim.

Holacracy Investigation

We’ve been thinking about how organizations calcify: actions drifting away from purposes, mindsets changing from expected value to loss aversion, and increases in day-to-day bureaucracy. What types of structures keep things fresh and innovative? In that vein of inquiry, we did a Holacracy workshop.

We’re not running a fundraiser this winter, but if you find that crypto or recent market gains are burning a hole in your pocket, we always appreciate donations!

Happy Holidays!

Elizabeth & the CFAR Team

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